If a child cannot be looked after by their birth parents, he or she will be fostered or adopted.
Adoption gives a child in care the chance to become part of a ‘forever family’ permanently.
Adoption transfers all legal parental rights and responsibilities from birth parents, or a local authority, to adoptive parents.
People taking care of children who may, or may not, return to their birth parents are called ‘concurrent carers’, or ‘foster to adopt carers’.
Concurrent carers are approved adopters, assessed to take care of a specific child. They could later adopt the child if a court of law agrees.
Some children are placed with concurrent carers with the potential to become their adoptive parents, rather than placing them in temporary homes.
If a decision is made that a child cannot go back to and remain with their birth parents, the concurrent carer can apply to adopt the child.
A special guardian is legally responsible for taking care of a child until he or she reaches the age of 18.
Special guardians can be a member of the child’s family, or a family friend.
A ‘special guardianship order’ is granted by a court before someone can take on this very important role.
When a child is cared for by a special guardian they are no longer looked after by the local authority. All parental rights are given to the special guardian.
Older children who do not want to be separated from their birth families are more likely to be looked after in this way.
Unlike adoption, birth parents remain a child’s legal parents with parental responsibilities, however their ability to exercise these responsibilities is extremely limited.
Special guardianship gives a child a loving and stable home without separating them from their birth parents.
Your decision to adopt has the potential to change a child's life and yours.